It is with enormous sadness and the profoundest admiration that The Ivors Academy mourns the passing of Maestro Ennio Morricone at the age of 91, a truly titanic composer for cinema and the concert hall whose prolific output has inspired and influenced several generations of musicians and film makers, captivating audiences around the world with some of the most beautiful soundtracks of Italian and international cinema.
After studying trumpet, composition and choral music with Goffredo Petrassi at Rome’s National Academy of St Cecilia he began a long and outstanding career, working as an orchestrator, conductor and composer for radio, theatre and many pop artists, as well as composing over a hundred concert works and collaborating with avant-garde ensembles such as Il Gruppo di Improvvisazione di Nuova Consonanza.
But he became best known for his frankly indelible scores from such celebrated films such as Cinema Paradiso, The Mission, The Untouchables, 1900 and Days of Heaven, winning countless awards including six BAFTAs, culminating in his first competitive Oscar for The Hateful Eight in 2016.
Familiar to most of course will be his unforgettable, genre-defining scores for long-time collaborator Sergio Leone, including A Fistful of Dollars, The Good, the Bad and The Ugly, For a Few Dollars More and Once Upon a Time in America.
His distinctive and often idiosyncratic music combined a restless experimentalism with a highly-developed melodic and harmonic sense, and a remarkable feeling for instrumental colour and texture. He regarded much of his work, from film scores to serious concert pieces, as ‘research’, striving to forge new paths and new methods, and continued to work right up until his final days. In many cases, his music transcended the project for which it was written, so often more memorable than the film itself.
It is not surprising that, over the years, his work has been sampled by numerous artists – Goldfrapp, Jay-Z, EPMD, The Prodigy, Wu Tang Clan, Super Furry Animals and Coolio to name but a handful. Peter Hook of New Order credits him directly as the inspiration for the bass guitar line on Blue Monday.
Maestro Morricone will also be remembered as a tireless defender and promoter of authors’ rights and in early 2020 the ECSA presented him with a special Camille Award for Lifetime Achievement, in recognition not only of his inspirational creativity but also his integrity and solidarity with the work of thousands of European composers and creators.
We also extend our sincerest condolences to his wife Maria Travia and their children Marco, Alessandra, Andrea and Giovanni.
He will be greatly missed but his legacy lives on in enduring music of individuality, passion and intellect, admired by fellow musicians and composers across all genres.
Mille Grazie, Maestro …